Leaving the trolls behind me…

Almost two years ago I woke up at 1am to a message from a friend begging me to scrub my blog of any information about her, which I immediately did. She told me a group called Kiwi Farms had found me. Who? I had no idea but would soon find out.

That day found me watching my statistics skyrocket to over one thousand views. I’d wanted viewers but not this way, not from trolls. Because, when you get down to it, that’s all they are. The weird part is they claim they read my blog but it’s like getting it read by a semi literate monkey. Nothing that comes out on their end remotely resembles my life.

I stopped reading their posts ages ago but was still getting screen shots and updates from Kait, until yesterday that is. Yesterday she sent me a screen shot where someone by the moniker Abortions4All claimed that since I’m slightly more romantically interested in women than men, I must be incestuously grooming Colin to be female. Pardon me while I go gag.

There is nothing healthy there. No reason to wade through their increasingly demented sludge, even via screen shot. The life they depict is nothing like mine. The me they depict is nothing like me. They live in a fantasy world and have created something that is linked to me only by name and a tiny handful of warped facts. The rest is all fiction. They aren’t worth my time, even in 10 second readings via Kait’s messenger. My life is better than that. I’m better than that.

Also, I just discovered how to hide them as spam in my statistics so I don’t even have to see them there anymore, which is a relief. If you’re dealing with them, you can see three dots beside their name in your statistics. Click on those and you’ll get a spam option.

I don’t want to leave this post on a sour note so here’s a clip of me singing karaoke at my friends’ house last night. Sorry about the quality, it was recorded on my phone (hence the weird angle and my startled expression) and I was using a $20 microphone from Superstore LOL

An update: My curiosity got the best of me and I went into the Kiwi Farms thread and found their newest comments. They are so dense they think my quote from their blog is my own writing, even with the person’s user name right there. Plus they’ve made up a bunch of fake quotes and are busy debating them as if they’re real. I don’t know what drugs they’re on but they really should look into rehabilitation. That look into the page was more than enough for me. I feel like I spent that time wading through dog shit.

I’m almost offended at the poor quality of trolls I ended up with but it’s better to have incompetent trolls that I can ignore than intelligent ones, that’s for sure.

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Who let the cretins out?

My morning started with a letter from one of the kiwi farmers saying, “You need to quit this shit. You’re mentally destroying your son, for your own selfish reasons.”

It wasn’t really a surprise that they’re back. I don’t know if they’re aware of this but WordPress monitors where people are coming from and helpfully shares that statistic with their bloggers.

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I know that’s small but, if you can’t read it, that’s 11 people from kiwifarms, which is a lot considering they copy each post they “critique”. I use the word critique loosely.

I don’t need to go on kiwifarms to know what they’re saying, in fact I never go there. Last time I discussed them, Kait sent me screenshots of the idiocy so I didn’t have to delve in. There’s only so much idiocy I can deal with. If anyone’s interested they’ll be saying what the above genius said albeit with a few more words.

They are so concerned about Colin (according to them) that they never pay attention to the words Colin himself says. Colin has persistently referred to himself as a trans female and has persistently explained he’s not transitioning because he wants to keep his fertility, something he just told the CAMH worker (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) this afternoon. She told him that’s becoming increasingly more common, I presume as younger people attempt to transition and also want a family.

The kiwi farmers ignore that, in fact they ignore everything he says and make stuff up whole cloth just to make it more interesting for themselves. Sorry, our lives are pretty boring. If you want some excitement, maybe take up juggling swords or something.

A Facebook friend of mine has been beautifying her hate mail so I decided to give it a try with my scrapbooking supplies. I think it turned out quite well.

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It really needs to be needlepointed

Then I checked my blog’s Facebook page and found a message from my ex, written through one of his myriad of profiles. He’s not only disowned both my kids (again) but this time he disowned his grandchild. Or, as Colin put it, “He disowned a fetus. Who disowns a fetus?” Then he threatened suicide sometime in the next year. But not now so he can’t get admitted. He’s gone so far as to carry around a letter in his pocket so none of us can visit him in the hospital or attend his funeral.

*wonders if he remembers that Kait’s his next of kin*

Screenshot (2)And no amount of absolute ignorance would be complete without a healthy dose of anti-vaxxers.

A friend of mine posted this gem and I just stared at it for a bit before snagging a screenshot. People actually believe this stuff. Worm ovaries? As a friend of mine said, “Can you imagine how hard those would be to find?” Another friend asked why it had to specifically be Cocker Spaniel kidneys and not a Great Dane. Probably the cuteness factor. They need a cute pup to tug on those heart strings. Cow heart strings to be exact.

As yet another friend pointed out, people today are too far away from serious diseases. They weren’t around for polio for example. They never showed up to school to find another empty chair. People back then stood in line to get their polio vaccine, just like people in rural Africa today will walk for miles to get their children vaccinated. They know the risks. Anti-vaxxers make them up instead.

We live in a society where a child’s death is a shock and almost unimaginable. Children are young and full of life. One hundred years ago people knew different. Children are fragile and illness could (and did) wipe out entire families in a matter of a week or two. That’s why when you go to an old graveyard, you will see a gravestone with a list of names and dates, all the way from little Penelope age 8 months to Matthew age 14. Sanitation made a huge difference with disease control but vaccinations are on the same pedestal for protection of lives. When you look at disease statistics, there’s a huge drop for sanitation and an equally huge drop for vaccines.

Out of the three things I’ve mentioned, it’s the anti-vaxxers who make me furious. They aren’t putting themselves at risk (unless their parents were cretins too and didn’t vaccinate) they’re putting their baby at risk and all the people who come in contact with their baby. The cancer patients, babies too young to vaccinate, children with a severe allergy to an ingredient, immunocompromised people, and the people whose vaccine simply didn’t take. And they sit there smugly claiming everyone else is sheep for listening to the medical field while they read discredited articles and outright fiction. But they’re being told they are the smart ones and it makes them feel special. They listen to people like David Cucumber Wolfe, who thinks mushroom spores are trying to make it to the sun and that mushrooms came from space. Oh and that it’s the salt in the oceans that keeps them from floating away. I wonder how he explains the Great Lakes?

And they’re going to pat their backs on protecting their children with essential oils (which can harm children, don’t do it) and homeopathy (which is another word for expensive water). And they’ll keep patting themselves on the back until more and more outbreaks start. And even then they’ll be idiots. I read a post recently from an anti-vaxx site and a heartbroken mother had a young child die from some vaccinable disease and she sat at her computer saying she would never vaccinate, wouldn’t the vaccine have made that disease worse for her little boy? And I just wanted to reach through the screen and shake her and tell her to wake up, she’s the sheep and the “natural health” people are making a fortune off her and her fellow idiots. Google Mercola’s mansion if you don’t believe me.

But I’m not the jackass whisperer so, instead I’m going to work on my book and have a bowl of minestrone for dinner. And I’ll try to decide if my waist needs me to make another batch of homemade biscuits and if my mind and heart needs another stroll through Facebook and a hundred posts about little stolen children living in cages. Maybe I’ll just use messenger. And the cretins will live their lives and I’ll live mine. And Colin will continue to be female while masquerading as a cis male. And the kiwi farmers will continue to have a conniption fit every time that’s mentioned.

And, yes, I’m going to make those biscuits because life is short and biscuits are yummy.

my biscuits

Endings and beginnings…

Kathleen and James

James and I before my choir concert. I had a solo and was so nervous

Years ago, when I was 21, I met a young man named James. I was at work at the time, working my way through college as a part time dishwasher. His mother was the bartender and he came in one evening while I worked. Soon we were dating and were engaged a few months later. By the time we’d known each other for a year, we were living together and planning a wedding.

I was pregnant with Kait on our first anniversary and pregnant with Colin on our third. We broke up on our 6th anniversary, had a brief reconciliation, then separated for good in January 2001.

Those bare bones facts don’t share the struggles and the emotional pain I went through in our marriage. They don’t show James keeping all his student loan money in his separate account instead of placing it into his  joint account because it was easier… leaving me stuck in the position of begging for milk money. They don’t show our frequent arguments over college when it was apparent to me he wasn’t working on school work. Arguments where he insisted he was working hard at school and I was simply over reacting. An argument he kept using until his report card was handed out. He assured me he didn’t get the lowest grades in the class, just the second lowest, as if that made things all right. I was pregnant with Kait then and needed him to work hard and actually try.

I struggled for six years, raising two babies (Kait and Colin are 22 months apart) and keeping the house together. Meanwhile James kept sliding downhill. I’d give him a bill to pay (pre internet banking). He’d walk out the door, ostensibly heading over to the bank less than a block away, then he’d come home saying he’d paid the bill. Which meant everything was fine until the next month when, whoops, our phone bill was double and James had spent all of last month’s “extra money” on computer parts. I made sure that I, for the most part, paid the bills but, with two small children, it wasn’t always feasible.

I didn’t want to break up our marriage but it’s something that takes two people in order to work and I was the only one doing the work. By the time we separated for good (we’ve since divorced) he was doing nothing around the house. The kids barely noticed his absence. The closest either of them got to wondering where he went was when Kait asked where the big pillow in the living room went. What big pillow? Oh right, James used to fall asleep on the floor instead of going to bed or sleeping on the couch. Then the kids would use him as a pillow. I reminded her that pillow was her Dad. She said, “Oh okay” and went back to playing.

He did everything in his power to ensure no child support reached us. He wouldn’t say where he lived. He got friends to buy him a phone under their names so he couldn’t be searched for. His jobs were often under the table and, if not, he only stayed for a few months so that FRO (Family Responsibility Office) couldn’t track him down. They were always a job behind him. All of that over $50.

He showed up when he wanted, sometimes twice a month but more often two or three times a year. Every single visit was fraught with drama. He left the kids alone in the Walmart McDonalds while he went outside to talk on his cellphone, leaving them unsure what to do. He ran them across a local highway at rush hour because he didn’t want to walk half a block to the crosswalk. To this day Colin absolutely will not jaywalk. It doesn’t matter if there’s no cars on the road in either direction, he has to find a cross walk or he has an anxiety attack. They were that close to getting hit.

As the kids got older, his behaviour worsened. He’d share things that would be TMI even for adults, like the time his girlfriend overdosed on sleeping medication. Instead of checking up on her or calling an ambulance, he left her in their bedroom and went out to buy two cups of coffee as an alibi. She lived but it was through no help of his. He called Children’s Aid (Child Protective Services) and told them that 13 year old Kait was beating me up (she wasn’t). He spent a year trying to convince her that he wanted her to live with him then dumped her at the end of the year, calling her “that one” and asking me to back him on banning her from his visits. There was a lot more but this post is threatening to be a novel already. It’s hard to compress 25 years.

He gave up pretty easily on Colin, which wasn’t a surprise because he’s favoured Kait since Colin was born. Which means Kait got the brunt of his erratic behaviour. Once he called her late at night to say he’d bought a bike from someone then it got stolen so he didn’t feel he needed to pay them. They were coming to get their money no matter what so if he didn’t call her by morning, chances are he was dead. Then he turned off his phone and went to bed. Kait called me in a panic and I told her to call the police. The police did a wellness check and, sure enough, he was just sleeping. She was a teenager when he pulled this.

James and Brenda

James, after his baptism into the Mormon church, and his Mom. He celebrated his baptism with a cigarette, a joint, and a drink

Colin and I have had him blocked on Facebook and phone since the fiasco in June. Kait did initially but then we found out their paternal grandmother was dying of cancer and unblocked him so updates could be passed more easily. She died in mid January.

The kids and I had a great Christmas but there was one thing we didn’t know and that was Kait’s pregnancy. She got a positive test on Boxing Day and waited until the end of the first trimester before telling anyone in the family. I went to her 12 week ultrasound and got to see the little heart beating and to her 13 week obstetrician’s appointment. Sadly we couldn’t hear the heart beat with the doppler but she was still pretty early.

I don’t know if it was the loss of his Mom or finding out about the new baby but James pretty much lost his mind. He’s been texting Kait a bunch of crap and he went one step further.ultrasound

There’s a troll website called Kiwi Farms (don’t search them, they’re nasty) where people do nothing but find blogs, mostly trans and trans positive ones, and pick the posts apart badly. I posted about them back in December 2016 when they first found my blog. I know they’re still around because they show up in my statistics once or twice a week but otherwise I ignore them. Kait sent me some screen shots from their site recently that left me shaking my head. They are still convinced that I’m forcing Colin to be trans and shoving him into my clothes, like he doesn’t have clothes of his own. He borrowed a shirt from me for Christmas because he spilt something on his good shirt and suddenly they think he’s wearing all my clothes all the time. Not to mention, I’m 5ft3in and Colin’s 6ft3in. My clothes, other than one loose tank top, don’t fit him.

Colin is as stubborn as a mule and as movable as a boulder. I’m not manipulating him, no one is. He’s not saying he’s a man, he’s made it quite clear he’s female. But, thanks to autism’s black and white thinking, he feels that if he’s going to stay the way he is without hormones, he has to use he/him pronouns and go back to Colin. Which is no big deal for us. I remember 99.9% of the time now to call him Colin and he’s gone back to Colin at the doctor’s office. Maybe he’ll change his mind down the road and maybe he won’t but he’s loved either way and he knows that.

Their Dad has found the site and has started posting there, under the name Xofkathleen, as if being my ex is the only way he defines himself. Weird. His posts are pretty much a word salad mixed with almost incomprehensible spelling mistakes.

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If I shrink these they become unreadable. Also 19 pages?!? Do these people have lives???

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And, yeah, that’s Kait and I talking up in the corner LOL

His texts to Kait are just as badly written and even nastier. Kait’s comments are teal.

Text 5

Text 7

Yes, he’s bragging about blocking her. Also, I’m pretty sure mefs are meds

Text 24

I’m pretty sure he won Father of the Year right here

Text 25

Eww… like Kait or I needed that mental image. I’d like to believe I came via the stork, thank you very much. And spoiler, Kait blocked her Dad, they did not, in fact talk “tomorrow”.

The simple truth is our lives are getting better. I’m doing a lot better on my medication and branching out into new programs. Colin’s happily working towards his high school graduation. Kait and her boyfriend Josh are looking for a new apartment in April, after they’ve saved up some money. Both of them are working full time. Josh is the assistant manager of a furniture store. His store’s doing a seasonal close in November and then he’s eligible for free training in a trade from EI so he might end up with an even better job come 2019. Blackie’s perked up and happily eating her food. 2018 is an amazing year for us and I’m sure it’ll keep getting better.

Kait, Kathleen, and Emma

It can’t be seen but there’s a baby in this picture 🙂

The comment section…

I remember my first exposure to the comment section. I was reading an article from the Toronto Star and noticed they had comments. I eagerly went to read, thinking it would be like the letters to the editor, heavily moderated and edited for brevity. They were no such thing. People were battling it out in the comments, complete with name calling. Later I realized that was the same for almost all sites. The comment section is where you tread carefully because trolls abound.

Then Emma came out as trans. I joined groups and made friends with both trans people and with parents of trans children. And, of course, articles about trans issues began flooding my newsfeed. And the trolls quickly followed. Once the transphobic trolls are weeded out, I find there’s five questions that surface again and again.

  1. The gender nonconforming girl and it’s always a girl. No men ever step up to talk about their gender nonconforming days *cough* toxic masculinity. She wanted to be a boy so badly when she was growing up. Boys had more freedom. So she wore boys clothes and had short hair. She might have even tried to pee standing up. Then she became a teenager and, voila, she because super girly. Loved lipstick and makeup and pretty dresses. Now she’s happily married to a man. If she was born today she would have been labelled trans. But, no, that’s not how it works. Trans children are almost always insistent and persistent. They know what sex they are and say it loud and clear. I’m a boy. I’m a brother. When will I grow a penis? They don’t just want to be a boy, they are a boy. If she was growing up now, she’d be labelled “gender nonconforming” just like countless other children today.
  2. There’s only two genders! Except there’s not. There are cultures all around the world who have more than one gender. Some have as much as five (the Bugis people in Indonesia for example). In North America, the indigenous people had a third gender known as two spirited. They were revered as wise people because they contained both male and female spirits. Our modern culture isn’t the only culture in the world.
  3. Tagging along with two genders comments are the people who say things like “my XX children are girls”. Maybe they think adding a bit of genetics into their argument will make them sound more intelligent. Pro tip, it’s not working. No one seriously thinks you took your children in for genetic testing just so you could rant on Facebook. There are well more than five genetic variants, with things like single X, XXY, XXX for example. If you haven’t tested your child, you don’t know what their chromosomes are. You could be in for a surprise.
  4. There’s always some who trots out the “My kid pretended to be a dog. Should I have changed his name to Rover and let him eat off the floor?” We all know kids love pretend play. They pretend to be cats and dogs and superheros and princesses… and sometimes an amalgamation of several of those. But there’s a huge difference between pretend play and being trans. Trans children are insistent and persistent. They often become withdrawn and confused because nobody else sees them as the gender they know they are. Some, as young as four or five, try to commit suicide. It’s not a game. Pretend play is fun and passes within a few weeks at the latest. Trans stays. The child might pretend to be cis if they’re met with extreme negativity, derision, or threats of or actual violence but they still know they’re trans and most eventually come out, whether it’s in their 20’s, 30’s, or even sometimes in their 80’s.
  5. Last, but not least, are the people who worry about the children changing their minds. How are they going to revert back? The answer is easy and should be obvious. They start using their birth name again and get a new wardrobe and haircut. Reverting back to their assigned gender isn’t very common however and often the child turns out to be non binary rather than being a cis male or female. The people who ask this question are usually quite uninformed and assume that transitioning to male or female in childhood somehow requires surgery. It doesn’t. No one is performing sexual affirmation surgery on children. That doesn’t happen until the late teens at the earliest.

I will sometimes wade into the comment section of articles and dispense answers, not because I think I’m going to get a bigot to think but because of all the people lurking. The people who know nothing about trans people and are willing to learn, the parents of trans kids, and trans people who are getting disheartened by all the transphobic comments. Besides, even if I only change one person’s mind, it could make a life time of difference to their child.

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Colin, when he was younger, in some of his favourite dress up clothes

 

Perfect people…

Every time I hear about a my life is better than everyone else’s person, I remember Stacey and I smile. She taught me a lot, although it likely wasn’t what she wanted to teach.

Stacey was the perfect person in the parenting forum I belonged to when Jeremy was young. She had the perfect job as an educational assistant, the perfect husband, and the perfect two children. Her house was always perfect (and spotless). Her children never misbehaved. She never disagreed with her husband. As far as I could tell, she was only on the forum to lead us lesser beings to the light by way of her superior knowledge.

Any time someone had a problem, Stacey was there to let her know that she’d faced the same problem but had succeeded because she was smart, educated, worked, and had a perfect husband who loved her dearly and took her out every single Friday night.

It was because of her perfect Friday night dates that she missed the troll. Every week a troll would show up on the forum and wreak havoc. It would mimic the names of regular posters; at one point it pretended to be me, asking if I could feed my kids dog food because I was supposedly too lazy to work full time. Why I’d feed my kids dog food while owning cats was a mystery. Another time it took a regular’s name and proceeded to tease and taunt that person’s friends. Then it discovered how to bypass post titles and write rude messages in the name section. Post after post with only a name section would flood the page in bold, stark profanity. No one could keep up. By the time a post was written, the troll had flooded the whole page with nonsense.

The next day everything would be back to normal, except for people gossiping about the worst of the troll’s messages, and Stacey would ruefully comment she’d missed all the excitement again, it was too bad the troll didn’t pick another night to hang out.

And then Stacey disappeared. It turned out she was the troll all along. There were no Friday night dates; those marvels that Stacey claimed help preserve her perfect marriage. Instead, every single Friday, she’d sit down at the computer and spend four hours bashing the same people she claimed to be friends with for the rest of the week.

No one has ever claimed I’m perfect. My house is currently a mess thanks to Jeremy taking apart a spare computer. My hair looks like I chased a kitten through brush (which I did… the kitten was leashed). I rock and hand flap in public, I’ve been known to sing in the produce department, and I almost never remember names. But I remember Stacey’s lesson. I’d rather be real than perfect.

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Rage…

In some ways my friend is pretty average. She has a house, three kids, a dog and a cat in small town America. Her children go to public school and are actively involved in sports. They camp, climb trees, swim, and love to get messy.

In other way’s she’s not. My friend is pansexual and non-binary, her oldest is gay, and her daughter is trans. Small town America doesn’t like them very much. And it shows. Her daughter has a diagnosis of gender dysphoria by a reputable paediatrician; she was told to follow her daughter’s lead and let her be herself. She’s bought enough clothing, from both sides of the children’s department, to open a clothing store and I’m reasonably sure she’s cleared out Target’s toy department as well. Their pantry is well stocked, the children attend school regularly, they’re clean and unbruised with that confident and slightly cocky attitude children have when they know they have a parent who is going to listen and support them. Meanwhile children’s protective services might as well have a revolving door installed on their front porch.

Children’s protective services removed her children for several months a year ago and allowed her daughter both to be beaten and have hot sauce and vinegar poured on her tongue for daring to say she was a girl. What’s a little pain now if it cures her? This preschool aged child spent months surrounded by so called professionals who berated her for saying she was a girl and insisted she had to go by her boy’s name. And now they’re back. This time claiming that if she really was a girl, she’d say so persistently and wouldn’t be scared to announce it. Once again this child, who’s biggest worry should be remembering if n comes after m, has to worry about her physical safety from the people who vowed to protect her.

My friend gets to comfort her sobbing child who wishes she could cut off her own penis and die. I don’t know what the worker gets out of it. Maybe the self satisfaction of not allowing the liberals to ruin her country.

I go on Facebook and see a veritable flood of articles about bathroom bills in various States. They all contain arguments from people who insist that there is nothing but male and female and that both are readily defined and recognizable. These people know they’re right, after all it’s obvious. There’s only been male and female forever. Won’t anyone think of the children?

Then they proceed to ignore the facts laid before them. All the various combinations of X and Y which make up people’s chromosomes. The prevalence of intersex people. All the various cultures who have and do recognize more than two genders. Studies that map how prenatal hormones shape the brain in regards to gender (most of which I’ve discussed here). They don’t need to read anyone else’s information because it’s their opinion, which they’re allowed to have, and no one can tell them otherwise.

It’s easy to shrug them off as unimportant, nothing more than wilfully ignorant trolls, except they’re not. They’re the caseworkers my friend has to deal with, the parents of her daughter’s classmates, and the coaches in their teams. They’re the people my adult friends hand their resumes to, who look at their ID then their face before filing the resume in the trash. They’re doctors and teachers and politicians. The people who won’t allow my friends to have ID that matches their gender. They’re people who have a gun and hatred and a burning need to show what they’ll do to protect the children.

They’re very eager to protect the children. Just not all the children. Not the little girl who’s being forced to hold hot sauce in her mouth until she recants and promises she’s really a boy… just please make it stop hurting. Not the six year olds with bladder infections from holding it in because they want to use the “wrong bathroom”. Not the children who get told by adults that they should kill themselves for being different. No one will miss you. They only want to protect children who were never in any danger in the first place, from a threat they made up to incite hatred.

My arms aren’t big enough to hug my friend who’s so very tired of reading articles and posts detailing society’s hatred of her… and my friend who’s positive there’s no one in the world who cares… and my friend who feels like no man will ever love her for herself… and my friends who are terrified for their children’s safety (children who are still young enough to be tucked in with a bedtime story and a kiss)… for my friend who’s growing increasingly tempted to cut off their own breasts because surgery is far too expensive in “the land of the free”… for the young artist who receives scores of hate mail every single day because she draws cartoons that depict her life.

And then some one else complains their free speech is being trampled because how dare some damn liberal disagree.

And my friend rocks her sobbing daughter to sleep.